Berbatov – Hernandez – Welbeck: Which Striker Should Man Utd Start?

That’s one question Sir Alex Ferguson quite possibly considered many times over the summer; just which striker should start with Wayne Rooney? Dimitar Berbatov, Javier Hernandez (Chicharito) or Danny Welbeck?

(Michael Owen excluded due to current lack of available data – his two goals against Leeds in the Carling Cup were his first involvement of the season).

Lets start by taking a look at each players characteristics, based upon match data (courtesy of

Danny Welbeck:

Dimitar Berbatov:


And, for comparison, Wayne Rooney:

The above strengths, weaknesses and style are all based upon actual match data, so provide an unbiased view.

To enable an easier comparison, lets put them into a table:

Interesting to note ‘finishing’ isnt included as Rooney’s strong point, despite 9 goals in 5 Premier League games so far!

So all players are good at ‘holding onto the ball’, and also considered good at ‘passing’ – obviously with Berbatov noted as being slightly stronger, and all appear to have a similar level of ‘finishing’.

‘Through balls’ have been a particular strength of Welbeck, with Berbatov also good, but not noted as a strong point of Hernandez.

No shock in ‘offside awareness’ being a weakness of both Berbatov and Hernandez.

The main area that sets them apart – and possibly the reason Sir Alex has a new preferred starter this season – is the ‘defensive contribution’ – noted as a particular strength of Welbeck.

To put this into a match situation, lets take a look at some player dashboards (courtesy of FourFourTwo Stat Zone).


Danny Welbeck:

113 total minutes played in the two games, 5 successful interceptions and one tackle – or one defensive contribution every 18.8 minutes.


136 minutes played, only 1 interception and two tackles – one defensive contribution every 45.3 minutes.


(Dashboard from last season included due to lack of minutes this season).

If we score the players, say 2 points for a ‘very strong’, 1 point for a ‘strong’, and -1 for a ‘weak’, we get player ratings as follows:

Rooney – 9

Welbeck – 8

Berbatov – 7

Hernandez – 0

As a final point, lets take a look at the player ratings (again based on actual match data this season, from

SpG: Shots per game
PS%: Passing Success
AD%: Aerial duel sucess

Thanks to

Keywords: Man Utd, Manchester United, Dimitar Berbatov, Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez, Chicharito, Premier League


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